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Thursday, August 11, 2005Past Issues - S | M | T | W | T | F | S
South Jersey

July 29, 1998

Let's show commission we want battleship here

It's time to show the rest of the state our stuff.

The USS New Jersey Battleship Commission visits Camden Friday to view the most logical site to berth the historic warship. Around 11:15 a.m., commission members will pass by the Aquarium.

At that time, the Home Port Alliance for the USS New Jersey wants the public to rally there as a show of strength and support.

Make plans to be there because this is important. The commission will recommend a site for the battleship in about three weeks. It will choose among Camden, Bayonne and Jersey City. Gov. Christie Whitman has said she will support its decision.

The commission is made up of 12 members from North Jersey and one from South Jersey. Since the unit was formed in 1980, Bayonne and Jersey City have captivated its attention. At the commission's last meeting on July 8, the room was packed with loudly cheering North Jersey supporters.

We have only a short time Friday to wow the commissioners.

The 887-foot-long, 45-ton ship belongs on the Delaware River where it was launched Dec. 7, 1942, exactly one year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

People from the Delaware Valley built the ship. They manned it. They repaired it after its battles.

Consider the sentiments of one Philadelphia Naval Shipyard worker, Joe D'Imperio of Mantua. He helped get the USS New Jersey ready for the Vietnam War.

'(Jersey City) Mayor (Bret) Schundler wants the battleship in Liberty State Park for the money the ship will bring to that area,' he wrote in a letter to the editor of the Courier-Post.

'But we want more than that. We want to know the USS New Jersey is close to the shipyard and the men who built and worked on her and loved her. We want no more or less.'

Sen. John Matheussen, R-Gloucester, Camden Mayor Milton Milan and Camden County Freeholder Patricia Jones pressured the commission into visiting Camden before making its recommendation.

Moreover, Matheussen, Milan and Jones have collected petitions from their constituents and, with the help of the Cooper's Ferry Development Association, have put together a striking presentation to display Camden's suitability.

Let's show we care, too.

If you want the battleship on the Camden Waterfront, across from Penn's Landing, come to the rally.

We'll do it again when the ''Big J' returns to its rightful home on our Waterfront.

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